The Bay Shore Fire Department Jr. Redskins Drill Team made history this past weekend by becoming the first junior drill team in New York to win 20 state championships.
The Bay Shore team actually tied the Hagerman Fire Department team for first place at Sunday’s state tournament in Lindenhurst, notching 33 out of a possible 50 points.
It was only the third first-place tie in junior tournament history, which dates to 1982.
Bay Shore came into the day as underdogs.
“Hagerman had won five of the six tournaments [this year] going into the state tournament,” said Bryan Butler, Bay Shore’s junior drill team director. “Hagerman was able to pull away all the time.”
Not Sunday. This time, the Redskins were able to play catchup. But not before almost giving it all away. The Bay Shore team didn’t have a great showing in the second-to-last event, Butler explained.
“We let the back into it, so we had to buckle down … and we did,” he said. “The last couple of tournaments had also come down to the last event but this time, down by one point, lucky for us they were a couple 1/10’s slower and we got a point on them.”
The 2017 Bay Shore team is made up of 32 junior firefighters, boys and girls whose ages range from 8 to 18.
Among them is 18-year-old captain Kevin Sutch.
“It’s surreal,” he said, “just going through the ranks, and it finally being my turn to caption the team and doing everything that I could to take our team to the next level and win the championship.”
“We had very rough season and we pulled it together in the last tournament,” he said. “I had full faith in my team that we would pull out the win that day.
“I knew that they would do everything in their power to win.”
His father, Mike Sutch Sr., is an ex-captain with Bay Shore Hose Company and his brother, Mike Jr. is lieutenant.
“But you don’t have to know a firefighter to go out and joint the department,” he stressed. “If a young person wants to get involved, just go right ahead and do it.”
Fifteen teams competed in Sunday’s state tournament, mostly from Suffolk County. The farthest traveled form Buffalo, N.Y.
Bay Shore has won the state tournament five times since 2012. Central Islip won last year.
As for Kevin Sutch and his future, the 2017 Bay Shore High School graduate has enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He starts basic training at Parris Island Aug. 28.
“Going through the ranks as an officer in the drill team, it taught me so much about leadership,” Sutch said. “That’s something that I’ll take into my Marine Corps career.”
Click here to visit the NYS Drill Teams site.
Top: The Jr. Redskins Drill Team celebrate their 20th state championship in Bay Shore.
All photos come courtesy of Bay Shore Fire Department/Kim Versheck
Check out the junior drill teams in action Sunday: